The Young Master (orange sleeves) vying for the lead
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: Sandown, Saturday
bet365 Gold Cup Chase (Handicap) (Grade 3) 3m4½f, 5yo+
THE YOUNG MASTER just edged out Just A Par in a thrilling finish, but while Neil Mulholland and Sam Waley-Cohen claimed victory, Just A Par’s effort meant Paul Nicholls retained his trainers’ title from Willie Mullins.
Waley-Cohen was always nicely placed on The Young Master, who had finished third in the Ultima Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and the seven-year-old kept driving to the line to get home by a short head.
Last year’s winner Just A Par was narrowly thwarted, but the £31,800 he banked for second, coupled with Southfield Theatre picking up £7,950 in fourth, meant Nicholls’ lead over Mullins became insurmountable.
The final big race of the season provided a wonderful spectacle, with several horses still in it approaching the final three fences.
Richard Johnson had ranged up on the wide outside with Sausalito Sunrise, but had to settle for third on the topweight, while The Druids Nephew, previous winner Hadrian’s Approach and Dynaste were all in contention.
Henri Parry Morgan, who assumed favouritism off the back of late support, travelled well for Sean Bowen, but came to grief at one of the Railway fences on the second circuit.
Paddy Power gave The Young Master an opening quote of 33-1 for the Grand National next season, and Mulholland confirmed that will be the plan.
He said: “He’s very tough and genuine and jumped great for Sam. The longterm plan is the Grand National, we thought it was a year too early this season.”
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